TAXILA: Speakers at a seminar said 21pc of the babies born in Pakistan every year are either premature or underweight.

The seminar was organised by the district health department at Public Health Nursing School Attock on Saturday to mark World Prematurity Day. A large number of public health professionals, nurses, student nurses, lady health workers, lady health visitors and others attended the seminar.

Addressing the seminar, experts attributed the growing number of premature births in the country to negligence towards women’s health during the course of pregnancy. The speakers revealed that Pakistan is ranked second among the top ten countries that account for nearly two-thirds of all deaths from preterm birth complications.

They said 15 million babies were born before time and over 1 million children die before their fifth birthday around the globe every year.

Attock District Health Authority Chief Executive Dr Jawad Elahi speaking on this occasion said that World Prematurity Day is observed as part of global effort to raise awareness of the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity, which is regarded as one of the leading causes of newborn deaths worldwide.

He said that this year’s theme was ‘Together for babies born too soon – Caring for the future’.

He said the preterm births are one of the leading causes of death of children under five years of age. He claimed that according to Unicef, it is concerning that the existing rate of preterm births – 5 to 18pc – is on the rise in most of the countries.

Dr Elahi further said as the world was faced with the challenge of dealing with Covid-19 pandemic, World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that healthcare providers should enable mothers and infants to remain together whether or not the mother or child has suspected, probable, or confirmed Covid-19.

National Maternal and Newborn Child Health District Coordinator Dr Saeed Akhtar said a strong commitment towards reducing the number of preterm births in the country is imperative to progress towards global goals for health and well-being. He said every year an estimated 15 million babies in the world – one in every 10 – are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2020

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